Compiled by Chris Faulknor, Publisher
Boyne City High School celebrated its annual People’s Choice Award nominees on April 15 by honoring 36 students for spirit, kindness, and moral character.
While the local communities have remained under quarantine due to the COVID-19 pandemic, school officials salvaged the popular event though use of livestream technology.
Boyne City High School Principal Karen Jarema opened the ceremony from the school auditorium. But, unlike in other years, she was the only speaker there.
“Tonight’s format, due to the current stay-at-home order, is very different from the traditional,” said Jarema. “I am alone in the auditorium. Our staff will either be live from their home location or will have sent us a prerecorded video and our audience is at home watching through a TV, computer screen, or even a phone because of this format.”
Social studies teacher Christopher Herrmann, new to the district this year, described his experience so far with the district and how his nominee impacted him.
“People I work with, parents and students, have all been great, but one person really stepped up and stood out,” said Herrmann. “Their empathetic and open nature, their warm smiles, their work to make our classroom better, our school better, and my day better, deserve recognition. With that, Herrmann announced Kaylee Chew as his nominee. “I could not have gotten through this year without you,” he added.
While other teachers nominated their students from far away, Physical Education Teacher Ryan Brubaker announced a nominee that was, in fact, far more distant.
“He came to us from a long ways away, he adapted well, the community loved him, he was a star on the soccer team, students in class loved him,” said Brubaker. “He was always happy and all the circumstances with him being so far away from home and his family was very challenging for him, and I want to thank this individual for coming to class every day prepared with a great attitude, a great work ethic, and standing out above.”
His nominee’s stay, however, was cut short when he returned home as a result of the pandemic.
“I sure do miss him,” said Brubaker. “I miss his personality, his smile, his willingness to make everybody around him better.”
Concluding, Brubaker thanked his nominee, German exchange student Neels Ronnau, and wished him well.
David Willson chose his nominee based on his respect and focus.
“Sometimes the quiet ones are overlooked, but not by me,” said Willson. “He does everything in class well.”
Willson praised his nominee’s good manners and studiousness.
“He’s very respectful of both his peers and all the adults at our school,” Willson said. “He simply goes about his work in class, gets it done, and by and large does quality work.” Willson, by way of a live feed, presented his award to Thomas Sommerfeldt.
Spanish Teacher Amy Hertel chose Devon Hayden for other reasons.
“He’s developed a habit of spending more time in my classroom before school,” said Hertel. “I’m grateful that he chooses to spend his mornings with me.”
Hertel went on to speak of their conversations, which ranged from input from Hayden, arguments held in jest, and her disappointment at not seeing her students.
“Thanks for having a good attitude, telling it like it is, owning up to mistakes, seeing the good, and being the good,” said Hertel.
A twist from the norm, math teacher Lisa Rintala commended her nominee for challenging her throughout their lessons.
“They aren’t so much challenges anymore as they are evidence of this student’s understanding of the workings of algebra and geometry,” she said. “They are also evidence of an active engagement in what we’re doing in class.”
Rintala described efforts to find different approaches to problems despite the student’s initial distaste for math.
“I looked forward to what the student had to say and I will really miss hearing it,” said Rintala. “While math may still not be a favorite, there has been an impressive turnaround in the student’s attitude toward work and achievement.”
Rintala presented her award to Taryn McBee.
Social studies teacher Ross Daniels selected his nominee for his growth.
“I’ve only had him in class for one year and I’ve coached him for three. I’ve seen him grow and mature the whole time,” said Daniels. “I’ve seen him step into a leadership role, be vocal with critiques, and positive with support as the lone returning senior in the boys soccer program this year.”
Daniels selected Caden Rajkovich as his nominee.
English teacher Nicole Seymour chose her nominee based on overall personality.
“He comes in each day with a big smile on his face, he is larger than life, he is accepting of everybody in our classroom, and he is one of the hardest workers that I know,” said Seymour. “There have been times where he has been the last student in the classroom and not because he hasn’t been busy doing his work, but because he values a job well done.”
That said, Seymour also commended her nominee for his humor.
“He is the first person that takes the edge off the silence that sometimes lingers when we as teachers ask a question to the whole group and no one wants to answer,” said Seymour. “He does so with the answer that ties back to our lesson, but with a little bit of humor that keeps us going at the end of the day.”
Seymour chose Mike Cheadle as her People’s Choice Nominee.
“Thank-you for your laughter and your light,” said Seymour.
Don Nohel started describing his nominee as having reminded him of his niece. “She was tough, smart, feisty, and a bit of a tomboy. She had spunk, just like my nominee.”
Through tears, Nohel described a tough point in his life and the part his nominee played in brightening his day.
“I started picking on her every chance I got, then she started to dish it out as much as I gave it,” said Nohel. “This young lady has always been a ray of sunshine just like my niece I alluded to earlier. This young lady has found a soft spot in my heart, and I dare to say she has a soft spot in her heart for me too.”
Nohel’s People’s Choice nominee was Jaelyn Jarema.
Yearbook teacher Ellen Dart chose her nominee for creativity and willingness to work.
“She has always brought just an element of enthusiasm and cheerfulness and willingness to go above and beyond in everything that she does,” said Dart. “She’s willing to take on extra projects, she’s willing to help others, she’s willing to cross over and help with the broadcasting end of things—she’s just always been giving 110 percent since day one.” Dart added that her nominee’s response to the ongoing pandemic also weighed on her decision.
“When I found out that we were staying home as a result of the situation that we’re in right now with the COVID-19, her response along with most of the rest of the class was just, ‘I want to create this book. I want to finish publishing no matter what’ and I just was really touched with her commitment in that way.”
Ellen Dart’s nominee was Megan Hope.
Athletic director Adam Stefanski commended his nominee for his leadership abilities, which he shared in the form of several stories.
During the first story, the team was in the process of getting their photos taken.
“These were 50 to 60 young men wearing the uniforms for the first time and many of them for the last time,” said Stefanski. “There was a lot of excitement, a lot of distractions and this young man went up to the photographer and just said, ‘Let me know what you need, tell me where you want everyone at, and I’ll get them there and I’ll take care of this.’”
Another story involved a stray basketball. “Fast forward to a varsity boys basketball game against Kingsley and the basketball went flying into the first row of the stands and landed in an elderly lady’s lap and kind of stopped the game, and this young man went and retrieved the ball,” said Stefanski. “He took the time to not only get it and make sure the lady was okay, but to make sure she had a smile on her face before he stepped back on that court.”
While small gestures, Stefanski emphasized that these elements in his nominee Max Vondra are important by adding, “A gentleman from Kingsley came up and just raved about my nominee and how great he was and how most students just simply wouldn’t do that or be willing to take that time.”
While unable to be virtually present, bowling coach Kirk Smith’s statement was read by principal Jarema:
“Tonight I would like to honor an individual who I feel is becoming a master of his craft. This young man dedicates an enormous amount of time not only on the lanes, but to his studies in the classroom as well.”
Jarema presented Smith’s People’s Choice Award to Michael Deming.
Social studies teacher Michele Deming nominated a student for his enthusiasm.
“It has been a pleasure to watch this young man everyday come to class showing excitement and his willingness to learn,” she said.
“He would kneel down at my desk during our little news segment and tell me how excited he was to learn about the topic that day or would even add information that I may not have included for the lesson.”
With a final admonition to never lose his love for history, Deming presented her nominee Blake Root.
Band director Brandon Ivie nominated Krystal March for her volunteerism and unique gifts.
“My nominee loves to help others and is typically one of the first to volunteer,” said Ivie. “The student’s OCD tendencies have been very useful as they enjoy organizing and are at least mostly happy when I give them a new project to help out the band.”
Additionally, Ivie praised his nominee for her growth.
“Through the years, she has impressed me by her willingness to take risks and push herself to audition and play as a soloist, earning many medals at festival and the seat in our conference and district honors bands four times,” said Ivie. “She is Boyne tough and full of Boyne pride.”
Language arts teacher Katherine Palmer chose her nominee for her academic achievement and quality work.
“Yes, she earns good grades, but she earns them not by doing exactly what the teacher wants or merely by being hardworking,” she said. “The student earns high grades because she goes above and beyond what the teacher asks and does the work because she wants to learn and not because she just wants the grade.”
Additionally, Palmer’s nominee’s writing played a role.
“Her love of the written word, both in what she reads and in what she writes exhibits an intellectual curiosity that creates the kind of relevant connections to the material that make a teacher sigh and say, ‘Yep, that’s why I became a teacher’ because she is a joy to teach this year in my American Literature and creative writing classes and was a joy to teach her freshman year as well.” With that, Palmer nominated Phoebe Holm.
Principal Karen Jarema’s nomination revolved around a participant of robotics team BC Blaze and his response to the COVID-19 crisis.
“I had the chance to ask my nominee how they were doing as a senior through our current school closure situation,” said Jarema. “His response was not about the number of things missed or as a senior how it might not seem fair; instead, his response was, ‘We’re going to get through this. We’ll all be stronger, and we’ll move forward.’”
Jarema continued to describe other aspects that make her nominee unique.
“I’ve seen this student take challenging coursework, putting in the hard work required to understand it and to do well as the robotics coach,” she said. “I’ve witnessed the student prepare for and deliver a memorized speech, be part of the drive team, be one of the members that could program our robot before and during competition, all while encouraging others and supporting the team throughout the multiple day competitions.”
Jarema presented her award to Logan Zipp.
Counselor MJ Grunch honored her student for athleticism and hard work.
“He is a great athlete and has played golf, tennis and basketball at points in high school,” she said. “This individual is also one of the hardest workers I know and will put all of his time and effort in until a task is completed.”
Grunch went on to describe her nominee’s work as an office aide.
“The secretaries would give him a job to do and … once he got a job to do, would not stop,” she said. “One time I went over to him and said, ‘You know, it’s okay to take a break once in a while,’ and he just put his head back down and said, ‘I’m good,’ and just kept going.”
Grunch presented her award to Harry Moody.
Assistant principal John Hertel congratulated his nominee on his improvement.
“Over the last two years he has done a great job of working hard and reaching the potential we all knew he had,” said Hertel. “He started taking ownership of his work. In fact, more than once his teachers told me that they also had thought about selecting him.”
Hertel presented his award to Greg Dyer.
Special Education Teacher Pam Crouch recognized a student for her personal attributes.
“This student is a team player, responsible, caring, respectful, and kind,” said Crouch. “This student always has a friendly word for all students and staff.”
Additionally, she commended this student for her organization.
”She has a calendar, she color codes questions that she has for teachers about content, she’ll get her work if she’s going to be absent, and she’ll even be thinking about assignments that are due in a week or in a couple days,” said Crouch. “She’s a wonderful advocate for herself and always will be a support for others if needed.”
Crouch presented her nomination to Sophia Hemming.
English teacher Mindy Giem recognized a student for her attitude in the face of the pandemic.
“I’ve been lucky enough to have this individual as a student multiple times, both as a substitute teacher and now as a teacher,” said Giem. “And while our year is not ending the way that we had planned on, I’m sure that she is going to be just fine and she’s going to only grow stronger from this.”
Continuing, Giem praised the student for her consideration.
“She’s the type of person who’s going to encourage and support others who are going through other situations at the same time,” she said. “Just today she sent out an email to all of her teachers to touch base, but more so to say, ‘Hey, how are you guys doing?’”
Giem presented her award to Peightyn Valentine.
College advisor Brandi Schroeder commended a student for looking to the future.
“She’s not your typical star student, but she was never afraid to come to me for any advice,” said Schroeder. “As far as anything that was college related, she came in, sat down in my office many, many times throughout the year, and she even came to me for questions for her sister when her sister was too shy to come to me herself.”
Schroeder nominated Olivia Toorman for her People’s Choice Award.
Volleyball coach Mallory Slate described her nominee, one of her players, who she took a chance on becoming the setter for the team.
“I remember watching her on the court during her middle school games that I was able to attend,” said Slate. “She was a fearless, confident athlete, and as an eighth-grader, seemed to already hold a leadership role.”
As it turns out, the decision was a good one.
“Not only did she provide our program with great success and leadership, but she helped make me into the coach that I am today,” said Slate. “I am so extremely proud of her and the things that she’s been able to accomplish already.”
Mallory Slate chose Annabelle Seelye as her People’s Choice nominee.
Science Teacher Andy Bryant chose his nominee, not only for academic excellence, but good moral character and sense of humor.
“He really cares about actually learning the material and his moral character is unbelievable,” said Bryant. “He’s up there matching my wit everyday in class. Even when I slip in some jokes, I’ll see him out of the corner of my eye laughing and nodding just to let me know that he got it.”
But, according to Bryant, it was a very different situation that made his choice for this award clear.
“It was during the last football game this fall, and Boyne City suffered the last loss, so for the seniors, it was over,” said Bryant. “I had Drew with me, my 10-year-old son who is now part of the Boyne City youth football program, and I was trying to make him understand, and so my philosophy is to make sure he’s around the older kids as much as he can to see these fantastic role models that Boyne City High School has. Well, he was at the game with me. We lose, the game is over, and the seniors obviously are heartbroken and we are going around giving hugs and I can see that drew is struggling with this because all his big huge role models are breaking down in tears in front of him and he is having a hard time and I didn’t know what to tell him.”
“So, we get to my nominee, and after a long hug and lots of tears, he notices that Drew is in an awkward kind of moment here and doesn’t know how to take this, and he kneels down and talks to Drew personally and says, ‘Drew, when you love something this much, it hurts when it’s over.’”
For his moment of compassion among many other things, Andy Bryant nominated Nick Aown.
Hospitality Instructor Dennis Crissman chose his nominee based on his hard work and positive attitude.
“This person has put forth a effort to participate with class activities and does well with kitchen instruction,” said Crissman. “This person has shown me that they want to learn the basics of working in the kitchen and seem to really enjoy the class.”
Going with the theme of the evening, Crissman commended his student’s response to pressure and crisis.
“He conducts himself in a professional manner, even when things are not going so well,” said Crissman. “I would not trade a moment of the time that I spend with this person, and I have enjoyed having him as a student this year.”
Crissman presented his award to Justin Buning.
Girls basketball coach Julie Redman’s nomination went to a hard worker.
“She always put a smile on my face,” said Redman. “She ran cross country, ran track, and I had the privilege of coaching her in basketball.”
Redman presented her award to Avery Stadt.
Media center supervisor Flo Smith announced her nominee and said it started with one word.
“She was writing a paper and she asked me to give one word that would describe her,” said Smith. “I gave her ‘genuine,’ which by definition means truly what someone or something is said to be.”
Smith presented her nomination to Reagan May.
Math teacher Pam McDowell described her student as being different than most other students based upon his perseverance.
“The potential for success was very evident and, with perseverance, they were able to make the difficulties disappear and the obstacles vanish,” said McDowell. “I am very proud of the way he embraced the challenge and for all of his efforts during our early morning study sessions,” said McDowell.
With that, she presented her nomination to Pete Calcaterra.
Long-time coach and business teacher Andy Place chose a nominee willing to break traditional gender barriers.
“She competes in arenas which previously had been off-limits to girls to compete with the boys,” said Place. “She’s played high school football for four years and she is one of the best wrestlers in the state.”
Presenting his award, Place honored Bizzy Turnbull.
English Teacher Chelsey Herrmann nominated her student for working toward her goals.
“It’s clear she cares deeply about her friends and they care about her,” said Herrmann. “She has a deep love for her family, and she even made a whole poetry portfolio dedicated to each family member down to the cats and dogs.”
But, according to Herrmann, her nominee’s honesty with herself and others sets her apart as well.
“She’s honest about her struggles and willing to set personal goals as she strives to be the kind of person she wants to be,” said Herrmann. “I am so glad I have gotten to know this person.”
Herrmann nominated Shian Erickson for her People’s Choice Award.
Boys Basketball Coach Nick Redman chose his nominee for his overall character.
“He always goes out of his way to thank someone for doing something for him even if it’s something as simple as opening a gym,” said Redman.
His nominee’s response to a tragedy in Redman’s own life, however, said just as much about him.
“My dad just came down with cancer … and helping him out and my wife going through everything she was going through and just trying to get the team motivated, I was spreading myself a little too thin,” said Redman. “We came off a tough loss and we were a little bit depressed. My wife and I were leaving and my nominee’s standing there and he says, ‘Coach, I want to talk to you. I just want you to know that we’re all really sorry about your dad and we just want you to know that we love you.”
For his compassion and character, Redman nominated Aidan Brehm.
Lineman program instructor Tyler Amantrout recognized a student for excellence in the utility industry.
“He has shown determination in learning what it takes to be a lineman,” said Amantrout. “He has shown skill, attitude, and resourcefulness in climbing, problem-solving, teamwork, and many other technical skills such as changing out transformers, crossarms, and being a crew leader.”
Tyler Amantrout presented his nomination to Brady Butka.
Resource room council and assistant girls basketball coach Myra Bryant chose her nominee for being a “breath of fresh air.”
Recruited to be a team manager and keep statistics, the student fit in well with the team and brightened everyone’s time.
“She was a great addition, a great balance to what we had to do this year, and I am very proud to nominate Rylie Woodall.” said Bryant.
Drama Director Michael Houser nominated a student he’s known for the past four years.
“Their talent, dedication, and leadership have become things that we directors in the program have learned to lean on to make our shows a success,” said Houser. “They have always been there to help fellow cast members whenever they can or give them a kick in the butt if that’s what they need.”
Houser also recounted growth on the part of his nominee.
“It has been a pleasure watching them grow as a performer from a cowboy in a pink shirt tap dancing on a steel plate to a cigar-smoking newsie and a bootlegging Butler named Cookie,” said Houser. “I want you to know that you’ve made a huge impact here in the drama program and that we are all going to miss you next year.”
Houser recognized Carter Binkley with his People’s Choice Award nomination.
Art Teacher Jim Beckering described his nominee with two words.
“The first is ‘benefit,’” said Beckering. “Benefit is defined as something that produces a good or helpful result, and this person is always being good and helpful in the art room. My second word for him is energy. Energy is defined as vigorous exertion of power.”
Beckering nominated Ben Leaman for his People’s Choice Award.
Visual Imaging Instructor Randy Calcaterra described his nominee as “tremendously helpful, willing to please, and a fantastically hard worker.”
That said, Calcaterra did not nominate this student for any of these reasons.
Calcaterra referenced a situation that occurred earlier in the winter that would have given his nominee a chance to be upset—one which he did not take.
“I was immediately and forever impressed with how my People’s Choice nominee handled that situation throughout the entire course of the winter in particular,” said Calcaterra. “He was exposed to nonstop opportunities where he could have chosen to be spiteful, bitter, and negative, and instead he was anything but—he was always supportive.”
Calcaterra went on to name his nominee by saying, “Josh Robinson, I couldn’t give you more kudos for your attitude through that and the way that you handled yourself all the way through.”
Traditionally, the last to present and the first to use letters from a student’s name, math teacher Sandra Clausen didn’t disappoint.
“Words that describe my person: J-words are jovial, joyous, jocular. There’s not a lot of great joy words, but they all have joy in them, and that’s what this young man brings to my class every day,” said Clausen. “He comes with a smile, he’s ready to work, he’s also ready to joke and ready to tease.”
“The A it’s for academic, athletic actor, but mostly he’s just an amazing person—somebody that you would want your daughter to date, somebody that you want your son to be friends with or your daughter to be friends with,” said Clausen. “The C is for charismatic, charming, and courageous.”
Clausen continued using each letter.
“O is for organized, open-minded, outgoing, and original. B is for bold, brave, bubbly, busy. But, most of all, he is the best version of himself everyday. He is an outstanding young man, a great role model in all aspects of his character.
Ending the ceremony, Sandra Clausen nominated Jacob Alger.